Warner Music eyes sizable stake in Saudi record label

Warner Music eyes sizable stake in Saudi record label
Egyptian pop sensation Tamer Hosny performs in Jeddah. Saudi Arabia is aiming to organize and develop the entertainment sector and support its infrastructure through cooperation with various governmental sectors and private entities. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 03 March 2019

Warner Music eyes sizable stake in Saudi record label

Warner Music eyes sizable stake in Saudi record label
  • The news of Warner Music Group’s interest follows several significant global music business-related developments in the region within the past year

Warner Music Group is reportedly eyeing up a sizable stake in the largest record label in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s Rotana Group-owned Rotana Music. 

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that the US music company was “in talks to acquire a large minority stake in the company (Rotana Music)” which the newspaper said was “worth at least tens of millions of dollars.”

Established in 1987, Rotana Group is a media conglomerate, which in addition to Rotana Records owns television channel Rotana TV, film production company Rotana Studios, Rotana Magazine, seven music radio channels, and hotel management company Rotana Hotels.

After initially acquiring a 48 percent stake in 2002, Saudi businessman Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal upped it to 100 percent the following year. Rotana Music Channel was then developed as a 24-hour, free-to-air service exclusively for Rotana artists. 

The news of Warner Music Group’s interest follows several significant global music business-related developments in the region within the past year.

In February last year, Warner Music Group set up a local subsidiary in Beirut with a primary focus of acquiring emerging artists to target an Arab region with a population of nearly 400 million. 

In August 2018, French streaming company Deezer, partly owned by Rotana Group and Access Industries, which also owns 100 percent of Warner Music Group, secured an additional $185 million from outside investors to value them at more than $1 billion. 

Deezer was subsequently launched in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in October, offering exclusive rights to Rotana artists’ content, with Spotify then following suit with its own launch in 13 markets across the MENA region in November, creating a dedicated hub for Arab musical artists.

Warner Music Group’s rumored investment in the Arab music market comes on the heels of Saudi Arabia’s recent staging of major concert events in the Kingdom.